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ND WOMEN’S TRACK: ‘Pace’ remains key for team

Ryan Kiefer | Friday, April 1, 2005

Pace is a word that is used in track jargon constantly. Usually the term “pace” describes how fast someone is running in a race.But Irish coach Tim Connelly isn’t concerned with this type of pace. Instead, his team’s ability to pace itself throughout the season has been the coach’s focus this week.Following one of the most successful weekends of the year for the women’s track team – when it notched six NCAA qualifying times and proved itself to be competitive with top level teams – Connelly refused to let his team get ahead of itself.”We need to temper our enthusiasm a bit,” Connelly said. “Last weekend was simply a good starting point, a good first race. There’s still two months until NCAA Regionals.”In an effort to establish this theme, the Irish will take on lesser competition this weekend but will send their entire team to the Poehlein Invitational tomorrow at Purdue. The team was originally scheduled to compete at Indiana University this weekend but chose instead to go to Purdue. The meet in West Lafayette, Ind. held on Saturday will allow athletes to attend Friday classes.The Purdue meet will give athletes who have not yet participated in an outdoor meet the opportunity to compete in the elements.”You have to look at the conditions when you run outside,” Connelly said. “So many times performances can be dictated by the elements. We have to get used to these conditions. Saturday provides us with another race in which to do this.”Connelly also said some of his top distance runners will be competing in shorter events such as the 1,500-meter to help pace some of the less experienced runners. This will allow the distance team to get some rest after last weekend while helping teammates in the process.With the outdoor season still in its early stages, the Irish’s goal is to gain racing experience. Technique and strategy were strong points of Notre Dame’s performance last weekend, and Connelly will be stressing those areas again this weekend.”We raced very well last weekend,” Connelly said. “We were patient and waited for our opportunities. That was our biggest accomplishment last weekend, and it was much more important than just burning ourselves out like in a time trial. Smart racing is the ultimate goal.”Louisville, Indianapolis, Illinois-Chicago, Chicago State, Marquette, Loyola Chicago and Purdue are among the schools expected to compete against the Irish this weekend.